Legislative assembly

In the political chaos of Maharashtra, how Uddhav Thackeray defeated Balasaheb

Ever since the Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray – the petulant and wayward scion of Maharashtra – insulted the people’s popular mandate in the 2019 Maharashtra Legislative Assembly elections, things have gone downhill for him. The constitutional turmoil in Maharashtra resulting in the high-tension political circus kept the country engaged and entangled for days, with more and more Shiv Sena MPs clamoring to join the Sena led by Eknath Shinde. Shinde-led Sena wins vote of confidence in assembly now that it has 39 Shiv Sena legislators in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly – two more than two-thirds of party strength to avoid suspension as per anti law -defection from the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, apart from the support of the BJP and others.

The elephant in the room is proposed to be the Hindutva. The Shiv Sena founded by Balasaheb Thackeray mainly revolved around Hindutva, nationalism and the glory of Maharashtra, and unsurprisingly the real Shiv Sainiks, who had grown up with Balasaheb’s ideology, saw through the alliance unnatural Shiv Sena in the state long before Uddhav Thackeray himself. The Shiv Sena’s pipe-smoking leader, Balasaheb Thackeray, had a fierce ideological base, which garnered monumental support across the country, and through which the party quickly gained political relevance and power by playing the role of a Hindutva party.

In an interview with Rajat Sharma in 2014, Balasaheb Thackeray said, “Jo Hindutva hai, wo humara Rashtritva hai, aur agar ye Rashtritva iss desh mein gunah ho toh main baar baar karunga”. Bal Thackeray was a strong supporter of the demolition of the Babri Masjid and said, “I am proud of the Shiv Sainiks who razed the controversial Babri Masjid”, and that “the cops must support the Hindu Maha Sangh in this fight”. Obviously, Balasaheb was a man of integrity, clarity and courage. On the other hand, Uddhav, the silver spoon child, had jibed ‘Gaumutra’ at the BJP, commenting, “You have filled your mouth with ‘Gaumutra’ and cow dung, and you are talking to us. The Hindu hate-laden insinuation has already been used by terrorists like Adil Ahmad Dar, a member of the jihadist group Jaish-e-Mohammad. But that is precisely the weak tea we would expect of him after he shamelessly and desperately joined Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party, following the death of his father.

In 1999, Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray used the term “scumbag” while completely rejecting the possibility of an alliance with Sharad Pawar and choosing party principles over Pawar or Power. Moreover, throughout his life, Bal Thackeray, more than any BJP leader, displayed nauseating contempt for the Gandhi family. Bal Thackeray once barbed, “After Mughal and British rule, India was now ruled by an Italian”, and that “It is better to give India back to the British than to be ruled by her”, not forgetting its repeated teasing about her early career as a waitress. In his quest for power, Uddhav made a thousand compromises, ridiculing and trading the legacy of Bal Thackeray for the party’s power and future for an uncertain term. The Shiv Sena, which was frighteningly dominant in Maharashtra, soon began to lose its monopoly and then began vote-fishing by pandering to one community and then another. In this political landscape, Uddhav forgot that inheriting his formidable father’s name was not enough; he had to earn his gravity.

Sharad Pawar – visverally – has seemed to wield the Thackeray family like a pawn since the Maha Vikas Agadi (MVA) coalition was formed, setting the craziest record for corruption, scandals and political vendetta. In less than three years in power, Uddhav presided over the heinous lynching of Sadhus in Palgarh, the beating of a retired naval officer for passing on a joke about “Uddhav Saheb” and the heckling of the man ordinary for sharing posts critical of Shiv Sena, the state administration’s questionable role in Aditya Thackeray’s alleged involvement in the mysterious death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput; the illegal bulldozer at Kangana’s residence; a series of political killings and cover-ups, the hunting down of veteran journalists like Arnab Goswami and Sameet Thakkar; the list is endless. However, do these examples sound a little old? Remember Ketaki Chitale, who was arrested and imprisoned for 40 days for sharing a post about Sharad Pawar. But the brazenness with which intersectional feminists, democracy tabulators, and human rights profiteers invalidate Chitale’s disproportionate arrest is symptomatic of a far more sinister phenomenon: power play. Therefore, Sharad Pawar presented the best case for the BJP and paved the way for the BJP-led alliance to settle in ‘Varsha’, the official residence of the Chief Minister in Maharashtra.

Uddhav surrendered his courageous father’s principles to Sonia Gandhi and reached the nadir trying to please and satisfy her in every way possible. Shortly after Uddhav announced the party’s alliance with Congress in 2019, the real Shiv Sainiks and party cadres knew the ground beneath his feet was slipping.

In 2019, Thackeray mocked Congress for having too many eunuchs busy bowing in honor of the Italian lady (Sonia Gandhi) and said, “Congress madhe itke hijade hijade ahet, chavauycha tari konala?” Sagle jhuktaet tya Sonia Gandhi chya samor. Hi hijadyanchi aulad jo paryant ya deshavarti rajya kartie, Congress paksha mhanun, to paryant ya deshala changle divas yeu shaknaar nahi”, translating to “The Congress party has so many members who are eunuchs. All are busy bowing to Sonia Gandhi. The country will never have a good day until this army of eunuchs, who call themselves the Congress Party, dominate India”. To appease the Gandhi family, the Shiv Sena even called for the Rajiv Gandhi award to be renamed Khel Ratna, the country’s highest sporting honour, in a spirit of revenge and wickedness. Also, members of the Shiv Sena office were seen organizing an ‘Azaan contest’ in Mumbai, paying tribute to the tyrant Tipu Sultan on his death anniversary and creating an Urdu calendar referencing the deceased party founder Balasaheb Thackeray as “Janab”.

In February 2020, the government of Uddhav even abolished the quota for economically weaker sections of RTE, introduced by the Modi government, to help poor Hindus who do not benefit from any other quota. As Dr. Anand Ranganathan rightly said, “The Shiv Sena today looks like a shivering cat painted with tiger stripes, and with every monsoon rain the paint wears off.” For Sonia Gandhi’s political vendetta, Mumbai police have crossed multiple borders while dealing with the orchestrated bogus case against Arnab Goswami. Param Bir Singh, the former police commissioner of Mumbai, denounces the government of Maharashtra every day. Param Bir confessed that the allegations against Arnab were nothing but a hoax to subdue and muzzle Goswami and that he was forced to reinstate Sachin Vaze by Uddhav Thackeray and Anil Deshmukh.

The self-inflicted conflict started since the Shiv Sena chose power over party principles. “We are the devout Shiv Sainiks of Balasaheb. Balasaheb taught us Hindutva. We have never and will never cheat for power regarding the thoughts of Balasaheb and the teachings of Dharmaveer Anand Dighe Saheb, Eknath Shinde tweeted, clarifying his position that the faction led by Uddhav compromises the principles of Balasaheb, as well as an objection to Shiv Sena’s alliance with Congress and the CPN. Even after such humiliation, Uddhav Thackeray clung to the chief minister’s chair long enough to present himself as a frail and weak being.

It appeared that the Sena led by Uddhav never learned to respect the mandate of the people. Far from Uddhav Thackeray’s wailing and his stuff of being COVID-19 positive – to portray himself as a victim of a larger political game going on – doesn’t have the foresight to realize he can’t playing the victim only a number of times before people start to realize that maybe he himself is the problem.

It is as shocking as it is staggering to realize that today the financial capital of India lacked a stable government, with almost all the ministers fleeing the state, and yet the CM, despite the loss of his moral and political rights, is resolved to refuse to capitulate, causing the state and its people to suffer so far. The Hindutva-centric Shiv Sena that we know is on the brink of collapse, without Eknath Shinde. The writing on the wall is clear to us: Thackery’s descendants buried their heads under the sand – surrounded by sycophants – and unaware of Maharashtra’s political impulse. The people and the cadres are unwavering in their refusal to compromise on Hindutva.

Yuvraj Pokharna is a freelance journalist and columnist. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not represent the position of this publication.

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